By Jennifer Fuller GPD
For the Courier 

Social Host Awareness

 

August 23, 2017



Did you know that in the state of Montana, parents are allowed to provide alcohol in “non-intoxicating quantities” to their children? Did you know that it is illegal for Montana parents to provide enough alcohol to intoxicate their children? Did you know that it is illegal for adults in Montana to provide any alcohol to minors that are not their own children or legal responsibility?

While the city of Glasgow does not maintain a specific local ordinance referring to social hosting or host liability, our residents are governed by the same criminal and civil state laws as every other Montana citizen.

“Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor” is MCA (Montana Code Annotated) 16-6-305 and it states that: “Except in the case of an alcoholic beverage provided in a non-intoxicating quantity to a person under 21 years of age by the person’s parent or guardian …. A person may not sell or otherwise provide an alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years of age.”


Violation of this law constitutes a criminal misdemeanor when a parent or guardian provides an “intoxicating quantity” of alcohol, or when it is determined that an adult has supplied alcohol to an unrelated minor. Intoxication is determined to be an amount that results in an excess of 0.05 percent BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) or substantial or visible mental or physical impairment. The state penalty for this crime is up to six months in jail and a fine up to $500.

The social responsibility of Montana residents extends to civil obligations for injuries that occur as a result of alcohol consumption, and not solely for those that are underage consumers either. MCA 27-1-710, our statewide “dram shop law,” sets statutory criteria for the civil liability of a “person or entity” that furnishes alcohol, and that includes party hosts. Liability for damages in Montana are limited to two specific situations. The first of these is when the host supplies alcohol to someone they know is underage, or should have known was underage. And the second is when the person receiving the alcohol was forced or coerced into drinking, or was led to believe it was non-alcoholic. In any civil case referring to host accountability in Montana, the maximum burden for punitive or noneconomic damages may not exceed $250,000.

Underage drinking is a public health and safety issue. The adolescent brain does not fully develop until an individual reaches the age of 25. Until that time, kids are learning and growing and being perhaps negatively impacted by decisions that they are not fully capable of appreciating. As adults, we have an obligation to set healthy examples for the youth of our community. Underage drinking, drug use and risky behaviors are not going to be eliminated, but we are all capable of stepping forward in a safe and responsible way to be role models for our children as they grow up. We all have a part to play, and the Glasgow Police Department is, as always, “Committed to Community.”


 

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